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Old 06-05-2005, 03:43 PM
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Post Article: GBI asked to probe death-row escape plan

GBI asked to probe death-row escape plan

found here: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/met.../03prison.html

By CARLOS CAMPOS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/03/05

The state's prisons chief has asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to determine how three convicted killers plotted an elaborate escape attempt from death row.

Corrections Commissioner James Donald said in an interview this week he wants the agency to investigate how Andrew Grant DeYoung, Michael Wade Nance and David Scott Franks were able to hide hacksaw blades, cash, knives, ski masks, a map of Georgia and other contraband in their cells. Officers at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in the Butts County town of Jackson — which houses death row inmates — discovered the plot in late August.

Corrections officials initially suspected the department's own employees might have been involved in helping the inmates smuggle the tools into the prison. But an internal investigation failed to result in arrests or disciplinary action. Corrections officials also have refused to release the results of the investigation, citing security concerns.

Donald said a May 16 article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution questioning the investigation's lack of results persuaded him to ask GBI Director Vernon Keenan for help.

"I think it's a good idea," Donald said of GBI involvement. "We clearly have some infrastructure issues we're concerned about."

At a Board of Corrections meeting Thursday, Donald's staff showed how it's possible for employees to bring contraband into a prison. In one instance, a cookie box stuffed with a large bag of marijuana, crack and methamphetamine was found in a guard's locker inside the prison. They also displayed an array of crudely fashioned knives that inmates made with prison materials.

Donald said he wants to reconfigure the entrances at all state prisons so that no one who enters, including employees, can avoid walking through the metal detectors and being subjected to searches.

GBI spokesman John Bankhead said Thursday that representatives from both agencies will meet to discuss what needs to be done at the prison.

"The next step is for us to get together with the DOC authorities to discuss what they found in their investigation, to see if we would have anything to offer."

Two of the condemned inmates — Nance and Franks — had managed to saw through air vents in their cells and slip through the holes into an area behind their cells. They were working on cutting a door leading to another hallway inside the prison and on cutting through the vents in DeYoung's cell. The plan was foiled when Corrections officers pulled a string attached to one of the vents, causing it to come apart and reveal the opening.

The prison system took away some of the inmates' privileges, but said there is little further punishment they can inflict on men already facing the death penalty.
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